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Letter from Parliament, 20 November


One of the drawbacks to being a politician is not being able to fit everything in to a busy diary. I try and get to as many events as I can over the weekends in Rochdale and because of that I have to confess I’ve not been to Spotland to watch Rochdale as much as I could of late.


It was great to get to the game last week and brilliant to see the team come from behind and show fantastic fighting spirit to seal a well-deserved victory against Bristol Rovers. Fans couldn’t hope for a better afternoon’s entertainment and if the team can consistently play as well as this then we have good chances of promotion.


But as Rochdale knows only too well, getting out of division two is a big challenge and we all need to get behind the team and support John Coleman. If, like me, you haven’t been to many games of late then I’d urge you to get down to Spotland and give them your support.


If football isn’t your thing then another great way to while away a Saturday afternoon is to trace the development of our town’s social history at the Co-operative pioneers museum on Toad Lane and learn how ordinary people did extraordinary things.


I always draw inspiration from the idealism and vision from our original pioneers, and it’s this determination to improve things that I hold in mind when I’m critical of failings in our town.


In the last few weeks we’ve seen a number of senior council managers make the trip to London to be held accountable by MPs for their role in the Rochdale grooming scandal. I asked the Home Affairs Select Committee to call these people to attend because they had clearly failed Rochdale people.


The stories of abused young girls being ignored by Rochdale’s social services is one of the most harrowing things I’ve experienced in over 20 years in politics. Anyone watching the performances of Roger Ellis, Steve Garner and Cheryl Eastwood will wonder how on earth these people were given positions of power in our Borough to make such a mess of things.


Cheryl Eastwood came across as a particularly remote and out of touch director of children’s services, even admitting that she hadn’t met any victims of grooming in our town.


I’m glad all three people have now left our Council and can no longer do any more damage.

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